Client: County of Santa Barbara

Gruen Gruen + Associates (GG+A) contributed market analysis and financial analysis to support the preparation of a real estate master plan for Santa Barbara County. The master plan included the development of long-term strategies and alternatives for the use of office space (in Downtown Santa Barbara and at the County’s large Calle Real campus just west of Santa Barbara) while improving service delivery and reducing costs through facility consolidation and disposition of surplus real estate.

GG+A studied the office space market in Santa Barbara and estimated demand for two County-owned buildings in Downtown Santa Barbara to identify potential re-use opportunities if the buildings or land were made available for office space users other than the County’s workforce. The market analysis included an identification of the relevant geographic areas from which office users are attracted and within which building owners compete for users; an analysis of supply characteristics and trends; an employment-based office space demand forecast; and estimate of obtainable office space rents. The findings drawn from interviews with office space developers, property owners, and real estate brokers and secondary data analysis provided input for subsequent analysis of re-use and redevelopment alternatives.

Housing market analysis completed by GG+A was directed towards identifying adaptive re-use opportunities for multi-family housing at the Downtown Santa Barbara site and rental and for-sale market opportunities at the Calle Real campus in unincorporated Santa Barbara County. The market assessment identified competitive housing supply, housing price and rental rate trends, and demographic and economic determinants of current and future housing demand for each housing market area. The analysis was drawn on to estimate the potential scale and type of housing demand applicable to each site and commensurate estimates of market rate housing prices.

To estimate potential revenue generation from relocating the County’s workforce out of Downtown Santa Barbara, GG+A prepared real estate economic analysis of multiple development and re-use options for the County Administrative and Engineering buildings. Estimate were made of the amount of money an investor-developer could afford to pay for the properties, given forecasts of the net cash flow that would result from the redevelopment, occupancy, and eventual sale of the occupied redeveloped property. The analysis demonstrated that both office and market rate multi-family housing were likely to support significant property values and sales proceeds. For potentially surplus land at the Calle Real campus, GG+A identified prototypical housing development options and conducted a similar economic analysis to demonstrate supportable land values and potential revenue generation associated with both rental and single-family uses.

GG+A staff attended steering committee meetings to present the findings, conclusions, and recommendations and collaborated with Gensler to incorporate the results of GG+A’s work, including recommended strategic actions into the Master Plan.

The County put on hold the completion of the master plan due to the coronavirus pandemic.